BISHOP’S STORTFORD – 3 [Porter.12 Edwards.58 Morgan.83]
Sutton United – 2 [McBean.43 Alimi.78]
After a somewhat frustrating and really quite dull 2 week break from Conference South action, the U’s were back on the road with a trip to surprise league leaders Bishop’s Stortford.
During our enforced rest break, a fair few of the sides below us had been in action and rather un-sportingly, picking up points. So our once rather reasonable comfort in 13th place has become a 4 points off the drop zone 14th place. Uh oh. Whether it’s because of the break, the fact we’ve been there a zillion times or the fact we’ve been there a zillion times and never won, we kind of get the impression that the travelling support will be a bit more sparse than normal today.
Our own numbers are down. No Belly, Greek or Mrs C means it’s just the 4 of us heading up to Liverpool street for a pre-train beer.
Stupidly, we’ve forgotten that today is 5th round FA Cup day and both Ipswich and Norwich have ties in the capital. Meaning Liverpool Street will be awash with farmers and funny accents. It also means that the local plod will shit themselves at having two such big rivals on their patch at the same time and close the Hamilton Hall.
Ok Chalmers, you’ve frequented this part of town far more frequently than us, where’s the nearest boozer you scruffy haired fool? We head out the other side of the station and of course find the Railway Tavern across the road really very open. And it’s full of Ipswich and Norwich fans. Oh and a few Carlisle.
Chalk one up there to the Met. Nice one lads, well policed. Very thorough. No, really…..
We decide to stick around for a couple of beers and the first half of the Arse-Blackburn game before heading off to Stortford. Although, once it starts, the all Premiership tie proves to be a total yawn-a-thon and we find talking to really very pissed up Norwich fans to be far more our kind of entertainment.
The dull first 45 minutes comes to a close on the box and we decide to head off up into the Herts\Essex borders.
Pasties are acquired for the journey up and 40 minutes later, we’re in Stortford. Which today is the end of the line, with lots of pissed off looking people lugging big bags off the train to get the buses for the last leg of the journey to Stanstead.
Engineering works. Marvellous invention.
With the time just beyond 2, we nab a taxi and head for the ground rather than find a pub, walking into the bar to find the dull 0-0 FA Cup tie we’d left in London is still a dull 0-0 FA Cup tie. A few beers are had in a bar containing too many people carrying musical instruments for our taste and a bit of a natter with the Stortford fans we know before team info is pinned up.
The U’s are forced into a couple of changes again, with Scooby once more absent after breaking his nose against Welling and having it re-set again (I dunno, ever since that Lucozade ad, he’s turned into such a big jessie!) and Paul Honey suspended. Jason Henry is handed his first start alongside McBean up front with Ross going out to the left, Quinton returning to the centre and Harris filling in at the back.
Outside, it becomes quite clear that the instruments aren’t for show, with a regular sounding of what I would could only describe as the sort of noise you’d expect from a sperm whale. Farting. After a night on the beer polished off with a curry.
Nice. That won’t be thoroughly annoying all afternoon will it.
Henry gets us off to a bright start after a couple of minutes, layin g off a ball forward, before running on through after the return ball, but a defender just manages to make up the ground and get his challenge in at the expense of a corner.
A fairly end to end affair ensues, with the hosts playing the slightly more incisive football. The rapidly annoying ref awards a soft free-kick to the right of our area, around 20 yards out with 12 minutes gone. It’s subsequently whipped over the wall and crashes back off the bar. The first follow up attempt is scuffed across goal and the second is naturally put away to open the scoring.
To celebrate, the Spem whale at the other end releases a rather satisfied air biscuit.
We manage a quick response, with Gaynor and Gray persisting down the right and Gray eventually putting a low ball towards the near post along the edge of the 6 yard box. Henry manages to turn his shot on goal, but it lacks the power to beat the ‘keeper and he smothers the effort on his line.
With the home side seemingly taking control in midfield, Haze swaps things around and moves Harris into a more advanced position in front of the midfield to help out.
This helps steady the ship a little and on 26 mins McBean chases down a ball out to the right. He cuts in and lays the ball inside for Alimi arriving by the near post. His stabbed effort bringing a very good block from the Stortford ‘keeper.
Soon after, our slightly iffy defending almost gifts the home side a second goal when a poor ball back towards goal from the left is intercepted by a lurking attacker. He skips round Hogan, but before he can shoot, Patsy dives in to prod the ball off his toe and out for a corner.
On 35 minutes, there’s another near miss for Stortford.
An attack down the right ends with a ball right across the box. It’s then unselfishly laid back from the left to the opposite upright and the close range shot comes back off the underside of the bar. It looks like the loose ball will again be turned in, but the follow up effort is horribly mis-hit and the defence takes the opportunity to clear it’s lines.
Recovering from this little spell under the cosh, the U’s set about ending the half brightly and as they have all game, look dangerous going forwards. Gaynor tests the defence from the left on 41 mins with a run and low cross in that is just turned out for a corner and a couple of minutes later, the equaliser comes.
Another corner is put in from the right and is flicked on, seemingly by a defender, at the near post. It loops into the air and drops towards McBean a few yards out at the far post. With his back to goal, he goes by instinct and hooks a brilliant effort straight back over his shoulder, over the stranded ‘keeper and into the far corner of the net.
It’s a little unexpected, but just what we need with the break a couple of minutes away. And strangely, this also brings a loud whale fart from the other end.
Hmmmmm, perhaps the flatulent mammal in attendance is in fact a neutral?
The lads manage to see out the rest of the half without any further incident and we head to the bar for a quick half-time bevvy feeling a bit happier about life.
Despite our late lifter, Stortford come out for the second half looking like they mean business. Starting with 2 changes to their line up. This seems to catch us out a little and we spend a lot of time fending off some hefty pressure from the home side.
One effort from the left skims across Hogan and just wide of his far post after 49 mins and on 53 minutes, a shot from the right after a quick switch of the play brings a smart save from the big Irishman at the foot of his near post.
As with a lot of cases in the recent past, despite fending off all this pressure, we end up being the cause of our own downfall. Quinton plays a poor square ball to no one in particular on the right and it’s snapped up by the lurking blue shirt. He breaks quickly and with things opening up for him tries his luck from 20 yards or so with a fierce effort. Hogan does well to react and beat out the shot, but the defence is slow to react and the Stortford no8 makes sure the second time around, crashing the ball high into the net from 12 yards.
And speaking of which, this latest addition to the scoreline naturally brings another bout of whale type farty trumpeting from the far end.
For Bob, it reminds him of something else. Foghorns on the Mersey.
“Sounds like fucking Runcorn” he mutters “All that’s missing is the smell!”
The older hands amongst us shiver at the mention of the name and the memories of the fucking horrible dark, dank, stinking, hell hole that was Canal Street. Which kind of almost makes you positively happy about being 2-1 down at places like Bishops Stortford!
Not for the first time this season, the U’s roll up their sleeves and keep going. If there’s one thing that Mr Hazel has got largely sorted these days is the way we don’t just roll over and die when we go behind.
We dig in and the end to end contest ensues as we try & press for another equaliser. 20 minutes passes following Stortford’s second goal and just as thoughts are starting to turn towards another defeat, we finally conjure up that goal we’d hoped for.
The homer fucknut passing as todays ref decides to award us a rare free-kick out on the right. It’s swung in towards the far post but headed away back out towards the right corner of the box. It drops for the oncoming Gray who thumps it against a defender, only for it to run out to Alimi who rifles it low beyond the ‘keepers reach and into the bottom near corner.
Bugger. Shame it’s not a winner really. Then a ‘Bash-ing the Bishops’ headline would be a nailed on certainty!
Ooooh you’re a selfish sod Mr Alimi……
The goal lifts the U’s and we set about trying to upset the form book and get a winner. McBean comes closest with 10 minutes left, collecting Gray’s searching ball from right to left and clipping it cleverly over a defender before curling an effort towards the far post that the ‘keeper manages to tip away at fll stretch.
Sadly though, with a point looking a good bet, we again go missing at the back and un-do all that hard graft. A throw from the left is flicked on and finds an attacker. His shot back across goal is blocked but the follow up from the left corner of the box is forced through the chaotic area and into the net.
Fuck. It. Naturally Mr Whale drops his guts repeatedly on the terrace at the other end to signal his joy at this event.
Stortford almost seal the result with a minute left when a quick break sends their man clear, but he makes a mess of the chance and clips the ball beyond a stranded Hogan, but also beyond the far post.
Still though, we keep at it. And deep into injury time, with the home fans nervously whistling for the useless scrotal discharge of a ref to blow up in between choruses of ‘We are top of the league’, a last ditch push almost brings yet another equaliser.
We again attack down the right and a low diagonal ball across the box is just begging to be turned in, but as Henry tries to recover it at the far post, he’s dumped to the turf from behind by the stunningly mulleted no5.
Naturally, our shouts for a pen go unheard by the cockmeister in black and his whistle shortly after brings the curtain down on another brave, yet ultimately fruitless 90minutes. Still, it doesn’t stop us heading for a good few beers in the bar.
The results come in and by and large, don’t do us many favours at all. The locals are happy though as Histon have lost at home to Yeading, meaning their stay at the top will last just a bit longer. To make matters worse, Oldham’s promotion charge has stuttered with a home defeat to lowly Millwall. And Millsy is a mockin’ via the miracle of text message.
A few beers and plenty more banter with our Essex friends later, we finally decide it’s time to head back to civilisation. Cab called, we’re back at the station in good time for the trip back to Liverpool Street. Naturally, the Hamilton is stil shut, so we head straight back to the Railway to catch the end of the Man Utd-Reading encounter.
Amusingly, the Royals have one Adam Frederici in goal, who was last seen conceding 80 goals for the Scummers in their inevitable dive towards relegation last season. Strange how life turns out eh?
More beer and it’s then off home to the Robin Hood via a bendy bus to London Bridge and a train back to Sutton.
Naturally, the evening is seen out as all Saturday evenings should be. Planted in the battle cruiser with a nice few britneys.
Eastleigh on Tuesday. Wonder if their mums will let them out for the night?
MAN OF THE MATCH : Bashiru Alimi. All action performance and a goal.
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. Not that bad a game actually. Quite enjoyable.
TEAM : Hogan, Palmer, Harris, Gonsalves, Bray, Gray, Alimi, Gaynor, Quinton, McBean, Henry. SUBS : Fear, Akuamouah, Blackwell, Naughton